Got a technological solution? Wear it

(From left) Students Lin Yuet Tung, 19; Hao Wei Ning, 18; Kin Seung Kyu, 20; and Phoebe Chew, 19, are part of the five-member team that created Meww, a wearable mosquito warning device.
(From left) Students Lin Yuet Tung, 19; Hao Wei Ning, 18; Kin Seung Kyu, 20; and Phoebe Chew, 19, are part of the five-member team that created Meww, a wearable mosquito warning device.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SUTD students showcase their projects that seek to solve problems around them

Fancy a wrist device that warns you if your current location makes you a prime target for mosquitoes, an ever-present concern with viruses like dengue fever and Zika?

The bad news is, such a product is far from hitting the shelves any time soon. The good news is, plenty of young people are putting their minds to solving the problems around them - in a wearable way.

A prototype of the Mosquito Early Warning Wristband - Meww for short - was on display yesterday at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), along with 86 other projects, at an exhibition of first-year students' works following a compulsory Introduction To Design course.

With the theme of The Technological Body, the exhibition - now in its fifth year and involving 456 students - will run until tomorrow.

Each group was given a budget of $500 for their creations.

Ms Phoebe Chew and four team members created Meww, which works by taking into account one's blood type, surrounding temperatures and sweat levels, while comparing the user's location with the National Environment Agency's dengue cluster map. Its lights will change from green to yellow to red, the highest risk level represented.

MORE THAN JUST THEORY

We are more used to a lot of theory and writing. However, for this module, there was a lot of 'hands-on' work.

MR JOHAN FARID TANG, a designer for the Blinko project, on difficulties for his team.

Another project on display, Blinko, is a highly adjustable vest made with strips of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) placed on the shoulders, as well as brake lights in the back. Through lighting LED strips on night cyclists' backs, it helps them to clearly signal directions.

Mr Johan Farid Tang said one of the main difficulties faced by the five-member team was their inexperience with physically making the vest. He said: "We are more used to a lot of theory and writing. However, for this module, there was a lot of 'hands-on' work."

Mr Johan, 21, and Ms Chew, 19, are unsure if their teams will take Blinko and Meww, which cost about $450 and $300 respectively, beyond the prototype phase.

However, student Teo Tai Xiang went a step further and on Thursday applied for a provisional patent for his team's project, F³, the first team to do so in the history of the course.

Short for "Friendly-Free Fire", F³ uses a camera mounted on a soldier's rifle to detect a specifically designed light on an ally soldier, and a wearable electrical muscle simulation device that connects to one's trigger finger and overrides the nervous system, preventing friendly fire in a military context.

Mr Teo said his team had exceeded the budget by "around two to three hundred dollars", but the 21-year-old has big dreams for F³.

Should his project move in a commercial direction, he is considering launching a start-up or an online Kickstarter campaign. "We really do believe in this," he said.

Associate Professor Arlindo Silva, one of two coordinators for the SUTD course, said the course pushes students to excellence. "They not only understand what is expected from them, but they also know that their limits are way beyond what they thought they were."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Got a technological solution? Wear it'. Print Edition | Subscribe